My Kids Used To Embarrass Me In Public! But Not Anymore!

I used to hang my head in embarrassment when I was out with my little boys. They just didn’t fit the mold of what I felt was good behavior in public. Or at least what I felt others deemed as acceptable.

Recently, our family doctor appointments piled up over the course of one week and I noticed something particular in the waiting rooms.  At every appointment, moms sat with their young daughters who listened attentively, read books, or colored pictures. One time, I went alone to a lab for tests. I had a 30-minute conversation with another pregnant mom as her daughter sat beside her without making a peep, allowing us to talk uninterrupted. Later that day, I went to another appointment with my kids. Sure enough, a mom sat across from us with her daughter who quietly turned the pages of a picture book. 

And then there was this:

Yep, that's what my boys were doing. 

It got me thinking…..

I don’t have a clue if that mom is a “good mom” or not. I don’t know her parenting methods or how much effort she puts into her relationship. She seemed like a lovely woman to me and for all I know she is mother of the year or neglecting her kids. No idea.  I do know how I parent, however. I quit my full time classroom job to be home with my kids, I speak about parenting issues and faith to groups of parents, I run a mommy blog, contribute for other websites on the topic of motherhood, and I’ve co-authored a best-selling book on gentle biblical parenting. But……my kids would not sit still at the doctor’s office if my life depended on it.

I like to think of myself as a “good” mom, but if you were watching my kids as we waited for the doctor to see me this week, you may have had a different opinion!

My boys had to wait for 15 minutes with me for one appointment. In the span of that time, they climbed all over their dad, got up and down from their chairs constantly, played charades, yanked on each other’s hats, ate snacks, guzzled water, and fell off their chairs onto the floor. To the observer, I probably did not come across as a “good mom.” 

For many moms and dads, this would be an instant trigger toward frustration and anger but I chose to cherish their banter they were so obviously enjoying. After a little while, another couple walked in with their three sons who promptly began to display similar behavior. We smiled knowingly across the aisle.

I know that there are many moms of boys, AND GIRLS too, who feel embarrassed about their kids’ lack of decorum in public. I get it. I used to feel that way too. And while I did spend some time in the waiting room reminding them to lower their voices and keep their hands to themselves if things got out of hand, I also let a lot of stuff go because I know that they are testosterone-charged little dudes who truly can’t find it in themselves to sit still.

Could I train them into submission using threats, constant practice, or discipline? Sure, I could. I know we can use various methods to get the results we want in kids. But you know what? That’s not me. I don’t want to squelch that spirit in them that makes them vibrant, rowdy, and boisterous. I know God made them differently from me as a female and that there is a purpose behind our differences. I believe that my short term satisfaction of forcing them to sit quietly would come at too costly a price, for them.

I do attempt some creative options, like “Simon Says—Seat Version” and “I Spy With My Little Eye” but even games like these have a short life span for my kids before they get squirmy…and noisy…again.

Instead, I continue to work on one of my favorite parenting mantras: “Don’t make decisions because of fears or peers.”

If I’m more concerned about what people think than what I believe is ultimately best for my kids, then I’m headed down a slippery slope. Yes, there is a time and place for them to settle down and be cooperative—I’m not saying that we ignore all behavior and let them act like maniacs, but early on in my parenting there was an imbalance in allowing them room to be the boys that they are physiologically because I was more concerned about what people would think of me as a parent. Those days, are happily gone! And it’s brought great freedom for both me and my kids!

The good news is that they still know when they need to shape up most of the time. For the most part, they listen to their teachers at school and know how to behave during Sunday School story time. I think they know that time with mom and dad allows more freedom to simply be their more rambunctious selves and I want to be that safe place for them to let loose a bit more than with other adults. If relatives, friends, or strangers don’t like it, so be it.  I take that concern off my plate. They may be a little too loud and a little too wiggly for some, but for me, I’m learning to embrace it.

I know there are a lot of parents out there who feel pressured by the standards of others. I want to let you know that you can let that go too. Instead, let’s get some clarity on what WE believe is best for our individual kids without fear or pressure. God gives us all the wisdom we need to parent the kids He has uniquely given to us. Don’t let embarrassment, fear, or guilt get in the way of following His leading! Go ahead and let your kids break that “seen and not heard” mold! Love their disorderly nature and maybe others will learn to too. 

YOUR TURN! Are you ever embarrassed by your kids behavior in public? Can you relate to my experience? Is it difficult or easy for you to handle the scrutiny of others?  

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The Best Way To Manage Irresponsible Kids

Wouldn't it be lovely to know that our kids did everything they were asked and were never irresponsible? I agree. But, let's get to that more in a moment.....

Today, each of us woke up with a specific spirit or attitude that will set the tone for our lives, our homes, and even our relationships with the Lord. 

What mood did you greet today with when you first woke up? Dread? Fear? Anxiety? Optimism? Joy? Weariness? Refreshment? Irritation?

This morning, as I made way to the bathroom sink, I saw what you see in the photo below. As you may have guessed, that's toothpaste stuck to the inside of the sink bowl.

I have talked many times to my kids about rinsing the sink out if they leave toothpaste there when they brush their teeth. But guess what? They still walk away leaving the sink like this at times!

I could, in this moment, let my eyes narrow, march down the hallway, and chastise my son for his mess. I could, perhaps, put on an attitude of resentment and wonder why no one EVER listens to me and ask them if I am their maid, throwing in a tone of self-pity and martyrdom. I could just clean it up myself allowing all the little things of the day get to me until I explode later.

Or, I could smile. I could see the toothpaste in the sink, not as an act of defiance but as evidence that my kids are obeying me in the greater thing--they are BRUSHING THEIR TEETH WITHOUT ME EVER ASKING! Hallelujah!!

I could think to myself that perhaps, in their immaturity, they need a gentle reminder about cleaning the sink out while they are at it. I could walk down the hallway and say:

"Son, I want you to know how much I appreciate that you brush your teeth every morning without me asking. I'm SO thankful for you and how responsible you are!" And later, when we both happen to be near the bathroom, I could kindly point out the toothpaste in the sink and I could smile lovingly and say, "Buddy, you know how much I love that you brush your teeth, but let's work on wiping the sink out too. Okay?"

The Bible affirms this idea:

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

It's all about the spirit in which we choose to see the everyday triggers around us. Are they moments and situations that cause us to sin in unrighteous or inappropriate anger, or are they OPPORTUNITIES as Wendy Speake and I talk about in our book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, for us to grow in our own Fruit of the Spirit first--like being gentle, patient, and kind?

For me, I'm loving this dirty sink today! I'm SO thankful for clean teeth and my sweet boys who still have some training to do. I get to be the one to keep "coaching them along" on their path toward becoming the responsible and godly men God desires them to be. What a joy!!

 It's all in how we look at it. We can be triggered or we can be triumphant!

Let's put on a spirit that reflects the Fruit of the Spirit today. Let's search for and root out the good in our circumstances, knowing that God's plans for us are for our good, to prosper us and not to harm us. Let's allow that truth to put a spring in our step, and breathe life into our children!

Let's thank God for dirty sinks and clean teeth!

YOUR TURN! What's the tone of your day today? How can you make it a day you can rejoice in? What situation came up that you may need to rethink or approach differently next time so that you are living out the Fruit of the Spirit in your life and as a mom? What are you thankful for today?

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Firehouse Garlic Bread

My awesome girlfriend, Jackie, made this garlic bread for our family one night and I knew that I was ruined forever. No other garlic bread compares! A firefighter friend passed it on to her, and now, as my part in making the world a much, much, better place, I pass it on to you!

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 cup of mayonnaise

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

1tsp  garlic powder

½ tsp dried basil

Loaf of sourdough or French bread, sliced lengthwise in half

PUTTING IT TOGETHER:

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mozzarella, cheddar, garlic powder, and basil. Spread it evenly on the two halves of bread (Can’t be any easier, right?). Place the bread on a baking sheet and put it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and then place it under the broiler for 5 minutes more or until brown on top!

P.S.This recipe is a huge hit with company. You may as well have the recipe printed out for guests because they WILL ask for it! And double the recipe, because once it’s been served, it will disappear quickly! Oh! And you will love this Italian Husband-Approved Minestrone Soup with this bread too! 

Enjoy!

YOUR TURN! What’s your favorite meal to pair garlic bread with? 

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